When searching for a new dental office, it is important to find a dentist who is both experienced and compassionate. Many patients find the entire dental experience anxiety-inducing, and oftentimes, this fear is the reason why some cancel their appointments, or are hesitant to make an appointment in the first place. Research confirms that 75% of American adults are fearful of the dentist, and put off seeing a dentist for as long as they can.
Seeing a dentist on a regular basis is critical to our wellbeing, so while anxiety may deter us from seeing a dentist, we should be proactive about our health or face dire consequences later on in life.
Here are some points to keep in mind when searching for your next dental office that can help put your mind at ease.
Is the dentist educated and skilled?
This may seem obvious, but many patients looking for dental services may opt for the cheapest options offered by unaccredited, unlicensed “dental professionals” or those with subpar reputations. This is a potential health risk, and in worst-case scenarios, may lead to more expensive costs down the road.
Look for a dentist who has a degree from a reputable and accredited dental school holding a legitimate state license. Read their online reviews, make sure they are skilled at what they do, and ensure they have many satisfied patients. Oral surgeons and other specialists require more experience, and a more extensive resume, so keep that in mind also during your search.
Knowing you’re going to a highly trained dentist with years of experience and a large number of positive reviews is very helpful in reducing your anxiety and making your trip to the dentist a less frightening one.
Is the staff friendly and well-trained?
From the moment you step into a dental office, take note of how the staff operates. The front office should be courteous, respectful, and understanding. By showcasing such qualities, you can be sure your entire experience with the dentist, hygienist, or other specialists will be a friendly one as well, where the entire team will do all they can to ensure your satisfaction and comfort.
Offices that treat patients as a number will not care enough to spend the time necessary to educate and put patients at ease during the dental process. The culture of the dental office must be one that is positive and friendly, so anything less than that should be of concern.
Is the office environment calming?
Dental spaces can be depressing and drab, creating unnecessary anxiety and stirring up bad memories of past experiences. Studies confirm the effectiveness of a bright, welcoming, and modern environment as it relates to keeping patients calm and positive during their dental visit.
There are multiple ways dental providers can create an inviting dental office. Working with an interior design firm that specializes in dentist offices can help create an incredibly warm and welcoming atmosphere through decor, color, and lighting.
When walking into a dental practice, make sure the office makes you feel calm and at ease. Remember, you will be spending some time in that office, so how you feel entering that office is critical in encouraging you to keep coming back for future visits.
Is the dental office clean and organized?
An organized and clean dental office is very important, as it is representative of the quality of care you will receive. If you see a pile of old magazines in the waiting room, dust on the tables, and a cluttered back office, you can be sure that attention to detail is lacking, and more likely than not, your dentist is not the cleanest or the most organized doctor in town.
Take these visual cues as what you may expect once you’re a patient. Will your files get lost somewhere in the clutter? Will the dentist’s disorganization translate into subpar work?
How good is their communication?
When going in for medical services, many patients have little to no background in medicine, so it is only natural to have questions.
Every dentist and their staff should be informative and thorough when it comes to answering patient questions and addressing concerns. During consultations, the staff should show great willingness to answer questions, and alleviate patient anxiety.
If you do not feel heard during your visit, you probably will not want to return. During your initial visit, take note of how the dentist listens and addresses your goals and how the staff interacts with you. If you feel comfortable, you can then make a decision on moving forward with your dental work. If there is a small part of the experience that bothers you, chances are that you’re in the wrong office.
In conclusion, there are many things that dental patients should look at in selecting a dentist. While reputation and work is a big part of that decision, smaller things that make you feel at home are probably as important, given anxiety often overcomes logic, making us not want to enter an office that gives us the jitters.
If you are a dentist, please contact our dental office design team at Designwise for a candid discussion about how we can help your practice attract more patients, and creating a warm and welcoming environment where patients feel comfortable and well cared for.